Isabella of Ibelin, Queen of Cyprus

Isabella of Ibelin (1252–1282) was lady of Beirut from 1264 until her death in 1282, and also held the title of Queen of Cyprus. She was the daughter of Jean d'Ibelin, lord of Beirut, and of Alice de la Roche sur Ognon. As a great-granddaughter of the powerful Crusader noble John of Ibelin, she was a member of the influential Ibelin family. Upon her father's death, she inherited the Ibelin family palace in Beirut, and the leadership of the fief. It was part of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, but had an independent treaty from 1261 with Baibars, leader of the Muslim Mamluks.[1][2]

In 1265, the young Isabella was betrothed to the young Hugh II, king of Cyprus (1252–1267), but he died before the marriage was consummated.[3][4] She then ruled independently, and as Lady of Beirut had friendly relations with the Mamluks, negotiating her own new 10-year truce[5] with Baibars on May 9, 1269.[2][6] She had an affair with the impetuous Julian of Sidon (d. 1275), and her "notorious lack of chastity"[7] (possibly) prompted the official letter Audi filia et from Pope Clement IV, urging her to marry.[8] In 1272, at the age of 20, she married Haymo Léstrange (the Foreigner),[9] a wealthy lord from the Welsh Marches who may have been a companion of Prince Edward. The marriage was short though, as Haymo died in 1273. While on his deathbed, he put Isabelle and Beirut under the unusual protection of Baibars, the Muslim sultan.[10] King Hugh I of Cyprus wanted to use Isabella's status as a wealthy heiress to choose a new husband for her, to attract another distinguished knight to the fight in the Holy Land. Hugh forcibly took Isabella to Cyprus to arrange a new marriage, but Isabella resisted, and received the support of both Baibars and the Knights Templar.[11][12] The matter was brought to the Jerusalem High Court, and became a political dispute during the Crusades as to who had lordship over the Lady of Beirut, the Crusader king or the Muslim sultan.[13] The High Court ruled in favor of Baibars, and Mamluk guards were assigned to Isabella's protection. After Baibars' death in 1277, Isabella married twice more, to Nicolas l'Alleman, lord of Caesarea, and then to Guillaume Berlais (d.1304).[1]

Isabella never had any children, and upon her death in 1282 at the age of 30, the lordship of Beirut passed to her younger sister Eschive d'Ibelin (1253–1312).[14]



  1. 1 2 Tyerman, Christopher. God's War. pp. 728–729.
  2. 1 2 Nicolle, David (2001). The Crusades. Osprey Publishing. p. 73. ISBN 978-1-84176-179-4.
  3. Runciman, Steven (1951). A history of the Crusades. (1st ed.). Cambridge [Eng.]: Cambridge University Press. p. 329.
  4. Edbury, Peter W. (1993). The Kingdom of Cyprus and the Crusades, 1191-1374. Cambridge University Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-521-45837-5.
  5. In Arabic, Isabel was sometimes referred to as Zabin
  6. Holt, Peter Malcolm (1995). "The treaty of Al-Zahir Baybars with the Lady Isabel of Beirut: 667/1269". Early Mamluk diplomacy, 1260-1290: treaties of Baybars and Qalāwūn with Christian rulers. BRILL. p. 4247. ISBN 978-90-04-10246-0.
  7. Runciman. p. 342.
  8. Hill. p. 157.
  9. Sometimes also spelled Hamo L'Estrange, Raymond l'Etranger, and variants
  10. Richard, Jean (1999). The Crusades, c. 1071-c. 1291. New York NY: Cambridge University Press. p. 445. ISBN 978-0-521-62369-8.
  11. Runciman. pp. 330, 342.
  12. Hill, George (2010). A History of Cyprus. Cambridge University Press. pp. 170–171. ISBN 978-1-108-02063-3.
  13. Edbury. p. 91.
  14. Edbury. p. 96.

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Regnal titles
Preceded by
John II
Lady of Beirut
with Hugh II of Cyprus (1265–1267)
Haymo Létrange (1272–1273)
Nicolas l'Alleman (1276–1277)
Guillaume Berlais (1278–1282)
Succeeded by
Eschive d'Ibelin and Humphrey of Montfort
Royal titles
Preceded by
Plaisance of Antioch
Queen consort of Cyprus
Succeeded by
Isabella of Ibelin
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